Case Studies

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Project Description

Trust, Respect and Confidence

Consultations can be passive, with responses sent by e-mail or posted into a box. Others are very interactive, including workshops, meetings, focus groups and shared events, building personal trust, respect and confidence. Although these important benefits may have been achieved during the consultation, there is currently no process to encourage participation as the project develops.

Filling the Gap

The MAG team noted the opportunity to fill the gap in the town centre which followed the active Ballymena public realm consultation process of summer 2012. The events and activities which had been specifically organised to try out new town centre uses during the 12 week consultation process did not have sufficient time to become part of the normal routine. Additional consultation will take place at the detail design stage of the project and it was considered important to encourage town centre participation to continue between consultations and the design and construction of the public realm project.


Many events take place every week within a few minutes’ walk in the town centre but are not as well known as they could be. Connecting these events with the people who already frequent the town centre (perhaps at different times) led to the idea of a place-based calendar covering the whole town centre. The calendar idea led instead to the idea of a blackboard, which has now been installed at the Arts Centre. Primed by the MAG team, the blackboard is now being used by local arts and business ventures to announce ‘what’s on’ in the town over the next few days. The electronic version is achieving hundreds of hits, thanks to input from Council officers.

Learning Outcomes

  • The process is ongoing. Thanks to collaboration with local council officers, the blackboard has been 'adopted' and is beginning to be used by a wider variety of groups. It needs a little daily attention as events come and go, but 15 minutes easily erases old material and adds new information.
  • Younger members of the arts team have already made the blackboard go live on Facebook and Twitter – with a high rate of interest from local organisations and visitors.
  • This simple and very cheap initiative that genuinely engages has boosted confidence in the capacity to make small changes. It is likely to lead to related activities.
  • Already officers are thinking about blackboards on sandwich boards and a bicycle driven blackboard has been spotted for the town.


  • Materials: A-frame base, borrowed from Council store. Sandpaper, primer, paint and brushes. Total cost = £27.42.
  • Labour: Delivery van and two men for half an hour, one afternoon for MAG to paint the blackboard, a couple of MAG resource days to figure out what to do and a 15 minute tea break outing every day to update.
  • Numbers: 60 hits on the first day on Facebook.